Anthony Wilden
System and Structure

Essays in Communication and Exchange
Tavistock Publications 1980


Wilden-System xliv
Introduction 1980
xliv Symbolic exchange: The structures and the processes of symbolic exchange in the so-called „primitive“ social systems correspond to the socio-ecological requirements of goal-seeking systems whose reality of values has been oriented by consonance and co-evolution towards long-range survival.

Conversely,
in societies like our own, where this hierarchical relationship is inverted so that the Imaginary structures predominate in the reality of the socio-economic system and its relation to its environments, then the (temporarily) dominant relationships will be those of short-range survival: “either/or“ exploitation and competition.

Wilden-System 1 : The Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real

Wilden-System 157
Wheras in man-made information processing devices the boundaries of the analog/digital distinction are fairly clear, the same is not true for other systems or for the inter-organismic communication of the human body (this is in fact the most significant aspect of the problem of artificial intelligence). And even the distinction in man-made machines requires careful definition, for the digital computer involves a code, and any code considered in its totality is an analogue of something (a map of some territory or other).

Wilden - System 222
Any act of categorisation is a punctuation, and the unit of survival has been wrongly punctuated.
The unit of survival is not either this organism (species, etc.) or that, nor either organism or environment, nor either this side of the line or that.
It is both-and.

Nor is the unit of survival „in“ entities – „in“ the organism or „in“ the environment - the unit of survival is their relationship, which is nowhere.
It is nowhere because it is information, and information is, first and foremost, difference. When Bateson says that information is the difference that makes a difference, he is referring to that use of distinction, within any given set of variables, which makes the further and continual transformation of difference (e.g., reproduction) possible.
Thus, although the epistemological line has traditionally been drawn in the wrong place - in the place where it creates a (solipsistic) barrier between sender and receiver - it's placing corresponds paradoxically with a real, material locus of difference.

Wilden-System 462 : The Ideology of Opposition and Identity
Critique of Lacan's Theory of the Mirror-stage in Childhood

Thus the image in the mirror - or that of another person - presents to the child at this period an anticipated form of maturation which he has not as yet achieved. The image is consequently the locus of a relation of "primordial discord": the child's sense of his body as an uncoordinated aggregate is matched against an image of unity or harmony, whether in the mirror or in other people (p. 96). This "discordance" between the child as an organism and his Umwelt is part of a process of development which Lacan describes as involving periods of the "stagnation of the forms of the ego" (moi).
These stagnated forms give rise to "the most common structure of human knowledge".
This structure is that which constitutes the ego and its objects in such a way that they can be characterized by attributes of "permanence, identity, and substantiality", which effectively make both ego and objects into „entities or 'things' (cf. Chapter VIII)).
But these constituted structures are 'out of step', as it were, with the gestalts of the child's actual lived experience, which is governed by "animal desire" (p. 111). In a sense, the child is 'falling over himself' in front of his own image. According to Lacan, it is this "fixation of forms" which introduces a certain "rupture" into man's relationship with the world. It is consequently the condition which "indefinitely extends man's world and his power", and it confers on man's objects, "their instrumental polyvalency and their symbolic polyphony", as well as their potential as "armament" (ibid.). All human knowledge therefore begins as formally or structurally equivalent to "paranoid knowledge" (Ia connaissance paranoyaque), since each stage of the development of the ego represents a stage of "objectifying identification", similar to that in paranoia.


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